Students say experience could be negatively impacted without professors

Two University of Ottawa professors have been informed that their contracts will not be renewed for the 2017-18 academic year because of budget constraints.

The professors, Raphaël Canet and Pierre Beaudet, are both members of the School of International Development and Globalization (SIDG). Canet said their contracts are set to end in June, and that the university has said they will not renew them. According to Canet, the university cited budget cuts as the reason for the decision.

The university, which will present its new budget on Monday, May 29, is facing a $15 million deficit, according to a memo released in December of 2016. In the document, U of O president Jacques Frémont had asked faculties to find ways to cut their budgets.

The university’s communications department told the Fulcrum it could not comment on the issue.

In response to news that their professors would not be returning, several students in SIDG created a petition to get them back. The petition is an abridged form of a longer document, which will be sent to Frémont asking to have the professors reinstated.

“A lot of students like them because they have a lot of experience,” said Yasmine Rashad, a third-year international development and globalization student. “If they leave, we don’t have much left.”

Rashad says that Canet and Beaudet taught a wide range of classes, from first-year to graduate level courses.

“They were basically some of the founders of the school of development,” said Guillaume Constantineau, also a third-year international development student.

Constantineau also notes that the professors’ ability to speak French was important, especially in a program that he says does not have many Francophone teachers.

According to Rashad, Canet and Beaudet taught a number of French classes, and said she found that there aren’t a lot of French teachers in SIDG with experience in the fields relevant to her interests.

“There aren’t many Francophone teachers in the program that are also dynamic, that go beyond the expectations of the curriculum,” added Constantineau.

Rashad believes that for Francophone students, it’s tempting to look at universities in Quebec where tuition is cheaper. “Just cutting and not meeting the interests of students … it’s not a good reputation for (the U of O) to have,” she said.

The students said they wish they had been consulted in the process. “They didn’t even ask us our opinion,” said Rashad.

Rashad and Constantineau are also concerned that losing Canet and Beaudet will leave them with a lower level of engagement from professors.

A finance committee report presented at a May 2016 Board of Governors meeting found that although there was a “positive trend” in student satisfaction overall, there was “dissatisfaction with teaching assistants and some areas of professorial engagement.”

The students are also concerned with who will be replacing their professors, noting bad experiences with some part-time professors. “Sometimes they tend to not be that motivated, they don’t have as much time for the students,” said Constantineau.

“We don’t know them well, and they don’t know the students well,” added Rashad. “They just come to teach their course and that’s it.”

“Just imagining (Canet and Beaudet) leaving… I don’t know what to do, to be honest,” said Rashad.

“For English students, I don’t think it will affect them as much,” she continued. “But for French students…”

“It remains uncertain,” Constantineau said.

Rashad also said that losing these professors has made her less likely to pursue graduate studies at the U of O.

The petition was started by Laura Sarmiento and Charlie-Ann Dubeau, also students at the SIDG, as well as Rashad and Constantineau. As of the date of this publication, it requires 269 signatures to meet its goal.

The university’s Board of Governors will present its new budget to the public on Monday, May 29 at 5:30 p.m. in TBT 083. As seating is limited, the meeting will be live-streamed into TBT C119.